Conservation Bodies Attack Proposal
24 May 2012 | The Hawk and Owl Trust has joined other conservation bodies in protesting against government proposals to permit wild buzzards to be caged and nests destroyed to protect young pheasants.
Nigel Middleton, Hawk and Owl Trust Conservation Officer for the Eastern Region, said:
“We are totally against persecution of any birds of prey, and destroying the nests of buzzards is tantamount to this. We believe that alternatives should always be sought to lethal control where the commercial interests of humans come into conflict with birds of prey.”
The Trust has joined the RSPB and Northern England Raptor Forum in condemning a proposal by Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to allow the destruction of buzzard nests and to permit buzzards to be taken into captivity to remove them from shooting estates.
The move by Defra followed lobbying by the pheasant shooting industry. Buzzards usually scavenge on animals which have already died, but they will sometimes take young pheasants which are released for sports shooting.
The buzzard was eradicated from large swathes of Britain following decades of persecution. Legal protection and a general warming of attitudes towards buzzards and other birds of prey on the part of many lowland land managers, led to buzzards recovering across the UK: a fantastic conservation success story.
Martin Harper is the RSPB’s conservation director. Criticising Defra’s proposal, he said:
“We are shocked by Defra’s plans to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions. Buzzards play a minor role in pheasant losses, compared with other factors like collisions with vehicles.”
Around 40 million birds are released every year for shooting. Buzzards will take young pheasants from rearing pens, given the opportunity, but the conservation bodies believe the issue can be managed without destroying nests or moving buzzards. Measures include providing more cover for young pheasants in release pens, visual deterrents to discourage birds of prey and providing alternative food sources.
Mr Harper added:
“At a time when funding for vital conservation work is so tight, and with another bird of prey, the hen harrier, facing extinction as a breeding bird in England, I can think of better ways of spending £400,000 of public funds. This money could work harder for wildlife, and I hope the Government will therefore put a stop to this project.”
A number of online petitions have been set up for the public to express their views. They include Buzzards deserve a life too!! and Defra – Don’t Spend Taxpayer’s Money on Harassing Buzzards. The Hawk and Owl Trust is not responsible for external websites.